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  • Celtic partnership with St Ninian's is top-class success

    Celtic partnership with St Ninian's is top-class success

    By: Mark Henderson on 15 Nov, 2013 19:45

  • CHRIS McCart has hailed the success of the partnership between the Celtic Youth Academy and St Ninian´s High School after 15 of the 18 players in the most recent UEFA Youth League squad came through the scheme. 
     
    Only Irish duo Fiacre Kelleher and Eoghan O´Connell, and German goalkeeper Max Oberschmidt, didn´t participate in the innovative programme, which aims to marry the football development of young players with their education.
     
    Set up four years ago, the partnership has gone from strength to strength and there are now 72 Academy players attending St Ninian´s – 50 full-time and 22 part-time.
     
    And Celtic´s Head of Youth told the official Celtic website that the scheme has had huge benefits for the youngsters. 
     
    "It´s testament to the relationship that when we play in the UEFA Champions League at Under-19 level that there are 15 players in the squad out of 18," said McCart.
     
    "That´s a great stat but that will continue each year now. There is a great standard of young player coming out and that is down to marrying a good education system with the football.
     
    "That was the holistic approach we were trying to achieve. It wasn’t just about football. Their education and lifestyle was important. There are the same values at St Ninian´s as at Celtic and that has greatly helped the young players.
     
    "It´s a long-term project," he continued. "After four years, we are now seeing our 16 and 17-year-olds getting involved in the UEFA Youth League and over the next couple of years you will see a large part of them involved in our Development Squad as well. But it´s our aim and wish that this continues and they get to the first-team."
     
    Celtic´s youngsters have impressed in the inaugural UEFA Youth League and have more than matched for their illustrious group opponents – Barcelona, AC Milan and Ajax.
     
    And McCart believes it´s just one of several positive recent developments within the club´s youth set-up.      
     
    "From the Academy side, it´s been very positive," he explained. "There have been a lot of new initiatives with being involved in the UEFA Youth League.
     
    "We had signed up for NextGen as well but the UEFA Youth League has taken over from it, so we had actually committed to 12 European games this year. It would have been a big ask to play that as well as the under-20 games but we were prepared to move our U17s up to that U20 league.
     
    "We have a young, exciting Development Squad and our 17s are now playing in the SPFL U19 league, with over-age players allowed to play in it, so our 17s are playing against older players each Sunday.
     
    "Our 16s have moved up to play in the 17s and we have teams at U7s and U8s, who are playing in England regularly.
     
    "Our Development Centres are now attracting five-year-olds as well, so there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes.
     
    "There is a pathway and a structure and it looks as if that´s sustainable. Everyone´s main purpose is to get players through to play in a Champions League game, and that´s what we are all working hard to try and achieve."

     

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